Improving the Welfare of Southeastern Dairy Families Through the Adoption of Sustainable Production Systems

2013 Annual Report for LS11-243

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2011: $294,409.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: University of Georgia
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Dennis Hancock
Univ. of Georgia

Improving the Welfare of Southeastern Dairy Families Through the Adoption of Sustainable Production Systems


2013 Activities

In 2013 we continued the work on our project. While we have been disappointed with the sign-up and participation in the benchmarking part of the project, we have been very successful in the other areas. Specific items we completed in 2013 include:
• completion of the data collection part of the “barriers section,”
• completion of the production and environmental practices survey, and
• delivery of six financial management workshops in Georgia.

Also, we were notified that our proposal for the selected paper “Conventional versus Pasture-Based Dairy Systems: An Economic Analysis” was selected for presentation at the 2014 Southern Agricultural Economics Association annual meeting in Dallas, TX in February 2014. For 2014, we intend to complete the analysis of the barriers survey, complete the economic analysis, and continue to work on the benchmarking effort.

Objectives/Performance Targets

We are well on the way to accomplishing most of the objectives of this project. As previously mentioned, we have been very disappointed with the sign-up and participation for the bench-marking part. There are several reasons that we have struggled in this area. Perhaps the two major reasons for this lack of accomplishment have been the lack of available qualified personnel at critical times to meet with farmers as well as an overall lack of interest in producers to commit the time required to participate in this aspect of the program.

Since it is apparent that we will fall very short of our target number of producers, we have decided to focus our efforts on developing financial management tools that southeastern dairy producers can utilize to help them in their operations. Examples of these tools include:

    • updated budgets for conventional and pasture-based dairies,


    • enterprise budgets for different grazing systems,


    • a decision-aid to help producers determine the optimal amount of concentrate to supplement their grazing system depending on milk and feed prices,


    • and extension publications on considerations for pasture-based dairies.


Data has been collected related to the “barriers to adoption of pasture-based dairying” objective. In 2013, a total 163 responses (ca. 35 percent rate) were returned. Those responses were electronically recorded and we will complete this analysis in 2014. The results of this survey should be helpful in identifying ways to help producers and aspiring producers to adopt pasture-based practices if they are so inclined.


Two major accomplishments this year were the completion of the grazing/management practices objective and a series of financial management workshops conducted in Georgia. Much of the information regarding the grazing/management practices are shown above in the uploaded presentation, proceedings, and journal article.

One of the major accomplishments this year was the delivery of six financial management workshops around the state of Georgia. Following an initial presentation at the Georgia Dairy Producers Conference in January 2013, five workshops were scheduled around the state to teach dairy farmers about key business management principles including goal development, farm planning, and annual evaluations for key performance indicators (KPI).

Workshops were held in Clermont, Greensboro, Montezuma, Pennington, and Tifton. Approximately 75 producers and their families attended these workshops.

In these workshops, producers were taught how to develop SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) goals as well as financial KPI. Attendees learned about the three legs of financial sustainability (profitability, liquidity, and solvency) and how they could measure these on their operations. To facilitate learning, an example from the Ohio State University’s “15 Measures of Dairy Farm Competitiveness” was adapted to the workshop with learners working through the examples to reinforce the concepts taught. Feedback from attendees indicated that the program was well-received and very useful.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Direct impact has not been measured thus far. However, several contributions to research and education have been made as demonstrated by the number of publications and presentations listed with the summary section.


Keith Kightlinger
Farm Business Mgmt. Spec
Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics
2360 Rainwater Road
Tifton, GA 31793
Office Phone: 2293863512
Dr. Albert DeVries
University of FLorida
Department of Animal Sciences
PO Box 110910
Gainesville, FL 32611
Office Phone: 3523925594
Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim
Fort Valley State University
1005 State University Drive
Fort Valley, GA 31030
Office Phone: 4788256262
Audrey Luke-Morgan
Agrbusiness Mgmt. Spec.
Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development
2360 Rainwater Road
Tifton, GA 31793
Office Phone: 2293863512
Jeremy Kichler
County Extension Agent
Macon County Extension
P.O. Box 486
Oglethorpe, GA 31068
Office Phone: 4784727588
Dr. Mary Sowerby
University of Florida
1302 11th Street SW
Live Oak, FL 32064
Office Phone: 3863622771